Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Sewing Circle: Simple Madewell and Anthro dress

Today's Sewing Circle gets at DIY-ing a very favorite dress, as I can tell--I've received several emails/Facebook messages about making this classy, simple Madewell dress or very, very similar J.Crew and Anthropologie ones. So in addition to Leah and Vicky, who sent in these questions, hopefully my post will help lots and lots of you!

Asks Leah...

Q: I love this Madewell dress so much. I even tried it on in the store but I can't imagine spending over $100! I just bought some navy and cream striped cotton and I'd love to try to make it. Can you help me with the pattern?

A:  Luckily, that cute dress is super easy to make at home and there are a couple near-perfect patterns out there. I would recommend the basic bodice and the skirt from this pattern (the skirt is just two rectangles sewn together and pleated, no pattern needed, but just in case):

...although this pattern is close as well (but has angled front darts) and has the right shape of sleeve. You could even get both next time Simplicity patterns are on sale for 99 cents at JoAnn! The sleeve from one would work on the bodice of the other. Check your pattern stash for a similar dress sleeve just in case, as well.

You can create the cuff on the sleeve yourself if you want, just by making the sleeve extra long and lining it with self-fabric (so cut out 4 sleeve pieces instead of 2, and sew right sides together at the bottom), then fold the cuff back and press—and tack down by hand in a couple places if you want.

To get the cool varying stripe direction look, cut the bodice and sleeves according to the pattern directions but cut or tear the skirt sideways so your stripes go side to side! I guess it depends which way your fabric is woven or printed but I feel like usually the stripes on striped fabric go perpendicular to the selvage.

And, part 2 of this Sewing Circle... question from Vicky about something so similar!

Q: I'm absolutely in love with the Scalloped Stripes Dress from Anthropologie.  I really like the longer sleeve length at the moment. Plus the dress looks super comfy. Unfortunately it's also a little out of my price range. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to make this? What fabric to use? A pattern? Do you think the lines are sew on or part of the material?

A: You're in luck, Vicky! It's a super easy and fun style to make, and I'd recommend the patterns from above. The Anthro one is a knit, so you could make it of a heavy 100% cotton knit if you can find one, and if you do that I'd suggest lining the bodice with self fabric or with a lighter weight cotton knit.

To make the cuffs, cut the fabric sideways (against the grain) for the perpendicular stripe look. Pleat the skirt with those box pleats for an almost identical look! Will be very cute and preppy for summer!

Okay, readers, what tips would you give Leah and Vicky?? Are you also totally in love with these cute, simple looks? Have you seen the perfect sleeve and cuff pattern?!


  1. Anonymous8/07/2012


    I've had this pinned to my pinterest for ages!
    Locally they only stock a white and purple version of this print but I'm desperate for mustard.

    Good post Suzannah!

  2. I made the Simplicity 2444 in a purple striped seersucker, and loved that it echoed the Anthro dress (but in a cooler material for our hot summers down South). I made the stripes go across the chest in the bodice, and then the stripes on the skirt go out in two different directions, spreading from the center seam! Easy pattern to follow!

  3. Those dresses are so adorable that now I'm tempted to follow your suggestions and make them for myself. I live in Orlando and there is a fabric shoppe that I recently found. Last night I was there and I saw they had the striped knit fabric as in the Anthro dress. I just may take a trip back there....

    Thanks for the info!!

  4. Anonymous8/07/2012

    So stripey! Thanks for all the tips, I have a great knit stripe that I'm dying to do something cool with. In the t-shirt realm, I was very inspired by Handmade by Carolyn's recent post: http://handmadebycarolyn.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-tee-or-three.html

  5. I just speak in common, not about these patterns. It is interesting that it seems to me the most DIY items are dress. Why?%) May be this is more fun to sew a dress?%)))

  6. I really enjoy your sewing circle questions. I have one that I am going to send you.

  7. I too loved the Anthro dress and grabbed both of the patterns you recommended during a 99cent sale earlier this summer. I finished my dress recently and love it. I was using fabric from my mom's stash so it's more colorful with shades of blue and yellow stripes.

  8. I have that Cynthia Rowley pattern and can't wait to have the time to make one!

  9. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I bought that anthro dress. I got the orange version with cream stripes. The stripes are actually a textured scalloped crochet-y trim type thing sewn into the knit-nothing like you could actually buy in yardage, and half the reason I splurged instead of making it myself. You can bet I will copy it though! For those making it, the original has a built in sheath jersey slip, and the cuffs are just tubes of fabric serged to the wrong side of the sleeve and then flipped out and up and tacked on the side seams. Good luck!

  10. Anonymous8/08/2012

    Cute dresses. I hate finding something I could make but then not finding appropriate fabric. We have Hancocks and JoAnn but they never seem to have what I'm looking for :(

  11. I'm so excited to try this! Do you have any tips for switching in sleeve patterns? I bought both simplicity patterns, but I can't figure out how to put the sleeve from 2444 onto the bodice of 1873, and I can't find any good instructions online.

    Do you know of any place to find a tutorial? I'm totally overwhelmed!

    Thanks so much! I read your blog every day, and always feel totally inspired.

  12. Hey Suzannah, thank you so much for your email and for posting my cute dress :) So, I bought the patterns and was all ready to cut out when I discovered I'm pregnant! Yay for us, but that means I will have to wait until next summer when I'm skinny again to make this cute dress :( Well, something to look forward to! Thanks again, Leah



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